Dingle Hillwalking Club

Beautiful landscape view on hillwalking route Nutrition on the Hills by Eavan Fitzsimons

Nutrition on the Hills by Eavan Fitzsimons

What to eat or not to eat, that is the question!

This is the second in a 3 part series written by member Eavan Fitzsimons of ‘Nourish Me’. Eavan is a Nutrition and Health Coach.

In this second part we look at ‘Fuelling on the Hills’. Enjoy!

The intensity of the exercise will dictate what fuel (carbohydrates and/or fats) the body burns. Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for the body during high intensity exercise.

Hiking involves a mixture of high intensity and low intensity exertion as the terrain changes and also requires a mixture of foods to help balance sugar levels and in particular to avoid sugar spikes and crashes. When choosing foods to take walking aim for a good weight to energy ratio. Foods that are high in carbohydrates and have a low GI have a good weight to energy ratio.

Whole food bars – high in protein, carbohydrates and fats for a hit of long lasting energy. Check nutritional information on energy bars as some contain excessively high amounts of sugar. Nakd bars, 9 Bar, Bounce Ball and Homemade Flapjacks are better choices.
Trail mix – A mixture of nuts, seeds, dark chocolate and dried fruit are ideal. Avoid dried fruit like mango or pineapple which contain high amounts of sugar.
Sandwiches – are a good choice and a source of carbohydrates. Avoid white bread. Fillings such as cheese, butter, eggs, cold meats, tuna, nut butters, and pickle are good sources of protein and fats.
Olives – Are a good source of mono-saturated fats.
Sugary snacks and processed foods – such as sweets, jellies, chocolate and biscuits are high GI foods that will achieve a quick release of energy for a very short period of time. A common mistake in nutrition planning is consuming too much sugar and processed foods which causes energy spikes and crashes. Packing a sugary snack of choice, however, is recommended as part of emergency rations.
RULE OF THUMB TO HELP BALANCE SUGAR LEVELS – Eat a savoury food with a sweet food.(e.g., sliced apple with peanut butter/nut butter, grapes and cheese, peanut butter and jam sandwich, banana and wholemeal bread, oatcakes with cheese or hummus).

Water – is essential in nutrition planning. Avoid fizzy drinks. Drink 250ml of water per hour on the hills and add in an electrolyte for longer and hotter days.
Tea or Coffee – A flask of warm tea or coffee is a good choice in small amounts. Be mindful as both are diuretics.
Soup – is also easy to digest and is a slow release food.
N.B – Always have enough food and water in case of emergency delays such as accidents, injuries and getting lost.

Coming up in the next article ‘Refuelling after the Hills’.



Eavan Fitzsimons email: eavan@nourishme.ie ph: 0871692952 web:nourishme.ie